Michigan test scores up, college readiness slips
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — High school juniors improved in all subject areas on the Michigan Merit Exam this year, while the average ACT college entrance exam rose slightly for the fourth consecutive year, according to results made public Monday.
But the percentage of Michigan juniors considered ready for college declined after rising during the four previous years, which officials blamed on a slight drop in the percentage of students meeting proficiency levels in the math section of the ACT.
The merit exam is taken each spring. Proficiency scores ranged from a high of 58.7 percent in reading to a low of 28.4 percent in science.
The biggest improvements this year were in social studies, where the average score jumped from 38.6 to 43.9 after a two-year drop, and in reading, which rose from 53.5 to 58.7.
The writing average went from 49.3 to 50.8 and overall science proficiency improved from 25.7 to 28.4. The math improvement was slightest, with the average rising from 28.6 to 28.8.
"These improved scores reflect the hard work of the students, and also the great effort of teachers and others in our state's schools dedicated to improvement," Gov. Rick Snyder said. "Our mission is to keep that focus on our students, making sure they have the rigorous education they need to be successful."
The results mean that more than 70 percent of students failed in math and science, while only about half were proficient in writing. Overall performance in none of the five subject categories has risen continuously over the past four years.
Still, officials noted that reading proficiency is up 6 percentage points since 2010 — the biggest long-term gain. The improvement reaches across almost all demographic groups, with black students' average during that period up from 23.7 to 31.3.
"We still have heavy lifting to do, particularly on further reducing the achievement gap, but these results show that we now are headed in the right direction among high school students who are graduating soon," state Superintendent Mike Flanagan said.
Michigan's average ACT score inched up to 19.8, continuing a trend of slight improvement that began with a 19.3 average in 2011. The highest possible score is 36.
To be considered college-ready, a student must meet proficiency standards in all ACT subjects, including English, reading, science and math. This year's 17.8 percent average readiness rating was down from 18.1 percent in 2013 after having risen continuously since 2010, when it was 16.2 percent.
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